wrestling / Columns

Impossible To Screw Up Angles That Were Screwed Up: NEXUS, Summer of Punk, More

February 1, 2019 | Posted by Caliber Winfield
Nexus

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Greetings, all.

It’s been a minute, and I apologize. As readers of the Man Movie Encyclopedia already know, sometimes my life gets busy and I gotta set aside the writing for a minute. But, no more of that. We’re all systems go, baby.

So, this week I thought we’d take a look at Angles That Would Be Impossible To Screw Up But The WWE Screwed Up Anyway. I’m sorry, but I just can’t call Vince a genius, I think he’s done WAY too much crap, and fucked up way too many THIS IS SO EASY kind of angles.

Here, submitted for your approval by the Midnight Soc—er, I mean, here are the the ones I felt were the worst instances. I also include a match review that goes along with the angle, because with Caliber, you get more bang for your buck. Dig it.

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Hulk Hogan vs Ric Flair – WrestleMania 8
I mean, c’mon. Not only did the WWE get Ric Flair, not only did he show up with plenty of time for a building up to the WrestleMania match up, but Ric Flair had the NWA World Heavyweight Championship! The absolute, most perfect set-up for the biggest match in pro-wrestling history was dropped into Vince’s lap, and he decides nah. He should have immediately been removed of duty and thrown in the nut-house on a 51/50.

Beyond the perfect set up, people thought perhaps this was going to be Hulk Hogan’s last match. I’ll repeat that; Hulk Hogan’s LAST MATCH. So, what does the brain-trust, the supposed “genius” Vince McMahon think; have Hogan go out going one-on-one with his biggest rival in the sport, a dream-match for the ages, to decide the undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World, or have him work a pretty boring match with Sid? Exactly.

Some say that people doubted it’s drawing power, which is a load of horseshit. There’s no way anyone would have thought this wouldn’t work. They certainly couldn’t have thought he’d be more bankable with Sid. Hell, when they finally did Ric vs Hogan on PPV over in WCW, it was almost 2 and a half years later, and set a buyrate record for WCW. Imagine what that number could have been with the WWE backing it.

Hulk Hogan vs Ric Flair [C] – WCW Heavyweight Championship
You know, people say that Hulkamania had run out of steam and such, but this crowd is legit going crazy for Hogan. Flair is rocking the classic heel persona, as we start with traditional wrestling and stall tactics. Hogan controls for a large portion, with Flair getting in a few shots, but Hogan attempts the Leg Drop, and misses, giving Flair his run, working the leg and hitting the Figure 4. There’s a couple times where you see the usual Hulk ending coming, but then they fake you out, which I really dug. Really brought a lot of freshness to Hogan’s first match. I think this one here ranks as my favorite Hogan match of al time.
Hogan wins the WCW World Heavyweight Championship at 21:54 | ****1/4

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The NEXUS
I remember many moon ago when I went to read a review of RAW, as I never watched the show but wanted to keep up. The comment section had exploded with people freaking out over the closing minutes of RAW. I hadn’t seen 1 minute of NXT, so I had no idea what they were talking about, so I checked out the last few minutes RAW, and for the first time in years, I was interested. Drawn in. This was fucking awesome. This was like something we hadn’t seen since the nWo. There were no heels, no faces, nothing. The NXT were attacking both sides, hell, they were attacking announcers, and even stage-dressing!

The angle was served up perfectly. A group of guys who busted their ass, and felt looked down-upon by the WWE superstars, like they weren’t good enough. These guys were brutal, and would obliterate people. They didn’t come out to entrance music, or come down the ramp, they came in unannounced, with guns blazing.

They built the angle to SummerSlam perfectly, as the NXT gang were looked like very real, very credible, very unstoppable threats. The WWE grouped people from both heels & faces, because this wasn’t a “good guys vs bad guys” type of deal, this was the WWE verses a gang that wants to break the WWE. Now, had this been done right, they could have made the NEXUS monstrous, with a good portion of them becoming immediate stars. But, unfortunately, it wasn’t too be, as the angle was killed that night at SummerSlam, thanks to John Cena.

It doesn’t take a genius to see that you have NEXUS win at SummerSlam in pretty dominating fashion, to show they’ve got the goods, and then you can build on singles & tags for quite a while, until you have a bigger blow off down the road. Instead, John Cena took a DDT on the concrete fucking floor, and single-handedly defeated the last remaining 2 members of the NEXUS. Now, since day one I’ve defended John Cena, but this is definitely the one time where he used his clout to bury people, and even he’ll admit it’s wrong.

What came afterwards was a few months of nothing, as the NEXUS were relegated to just another group of heels on the roster, with only a single promo by Rowdy Roddy Piper as the stand-out moment during all things post-SummerSlam with the NEXUS.

Team NEXUS vs Edge, Chris Jericho, John Cena, Bret Hart, R-Truth, John Morrison, Daniel Bryan
The best part of the whole match is when Ryback tries to take his shirt off, but he can’t because he’s too big, so it gets stuck, and he has to try another way. Darren Young is the first guy eliminated, quickly, via submission by Daniel Bryan. Tarvel is soon eliminated by John Morrison, after hitting him with the WORST finisher in history. Seriously, I’d rather he defeated me by shooting me in the head with a Bedazzler gun, more belivable. They get Ryback in there, and he pummels on Morrison until eliminating him with the meathook. He quickly eliminates R-Truth afterward with the same deal. You can tell they had plans for him. Jericho gets in there to settle his hash before he tags in Wade, who puts a beating on him. Jericho tags in Bret, which the crowd absolutely explodes for. I remember watching this live and marking out pretty hard, because Bret looked like zero time had passed, he was crisp as hell. Of course, they have to DQ Bret for using a chair that was thrown in as a way to keep him from doing a bump, thus killing his insurance policy. Jericho hits Ryback with a Codebreaker, and Edge follows up with a spear, getting the pin. It takes a while before the next elimination, as Edge gets beat down for a while before tagging in Chris, who eliminates Otunga via the Walls. He’s going babyface Y2J here, and people are loving it. He accidentally runs into Cena, which distracts him and allows Slater to eliminate Jericho, and then Edge & Cena argue over who should go in, which, again, allows Slater to roll-up Edge. Afterwards, both him and Jericho pummel on Cena, which was pretty awesome. Cena then gets his ass kicked for a good while before D-Bry gets in there. He soon makes light work of Heath Slater and taps him. While distracted, Miz comes out and clubs Bryan in the back of the head with his MiTB briefcase, letting Barrett get the pin. The remaining 2 members of the Nexus continue to beat the shit out of Cena, and THEN he eats a fucking DDT on the CONCRETE FLOOR before being thrown back in, and defeats Justin Gabriel and Wade. Man, alive, what a load of horseshit. The match should have clearly ended after the DDT, with Gabriel hitting a 450 splash and pinning him. That would have established them like nothing else.
John Cena wins by making Wade tap to the STF at 35:15 | ***

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The Summer of Punk
Much like how I found out about the beginning of the NEXUS, I found out about the pipe-bomb. People were losing their cotton-picking minds over this, and, like always in wrestling, the things that get over the biggest are the ones that feature things people know to be true. So, when Punk sat on that ramp and spilled his guts, people wondered what if it was a shoot, if it was suppose to happen, because we knew it’s how Punk felt. It’s how most wrestling fans felt too.

Suddenly, everyone was talking about wrestling again. Then it happened. Money in the Bank. CM Punk came out to a massive home-town crowd, debuting one of the best-selling shirts in wrestling history, and proceeded to have a 5 star match with then King of the WWE, John Cena, where he beat him clean as a sheet, and promptly left the arena with the WWE title, after blowing a kiss to Vince McMahon.

The wrestling world was on fire, as WWE had hit upon one of those angles that can print money, bring old fans back, and create new ones. Unfortunately, this would be the last time they’d do anything right in regards to this angle. Common sense would tell you that Punk should have stayed away for at least a month, showing up at indy shows, defending the strap, all kinds of awesome stuff could have been done. Instead, they have him return a week later, and in one of the dumbest things they’ve done, have him lose the fucking belt to Del Rio after Kevin Nash hits him with the Jackknife powerbomb, for no fucking reason. He’s the hottest thing they’ve had in a DECADE and they immediately put the belt on a guy that no one gives a shit about. Then, their brilliant move is to have him lose a match to Triple H. I mean…wow. They HAD to have intentionally wanted this to fail. It’s 100% the only explanation.

John Cena [C] vs CM Punk – WWE Championship – Money in the Bank 2011
Right off the bat you know the match is going to be special because of the crowd. It’s a Top 3 of all time, because they literally react to EVERY move. ANYTHING that Cena does they boo, ANYTHING that Punk does they cheer. They do a sweet spot where Punk is suplexed from inside the ring to the outside, which I always liked, because you’d see that spot teased a thousand times in matches, and it never happens. They have some fantastic close-call stretches with multiple reversals and such. They also have some great false-finishes, as a lot of people weren’t sure they’d actually pull the trigger, and you could easily see Punk tapping. However, he does it, defeats Cena with the GTS, as the crowd erupts. He then flees through the crowd, blowing kisses to Vince on his way out. Executed fucking perfectly. Honestly, I think the match is a little over-rated, as I preferred their SummerSlam match more.
Punk defeats Cena with the GTS at 33:34 | ***** for the whole deal, ****1/4 for the match.

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The Invasion of WCW & ECW
Do I even need to go into why? I know we don’t number things here at Rushmore, but this is without a doubt, #1. The biggest fuck up in the history of pro-wrestling, forever and forever.

Team WWF vs Team Alliance
They start off with Austin vs Rhyno, and it’s just a damn shame they didn’t let Rhyno be Rhyno. I loved him in ECW, and even created him in both Wrestlemania 2000 and No Mercy. He was a fucking killer. He tags in Booker, and Chris Jericho destroys him. I’m noticing a pattern here. Man, Kane is fucking JACKED during this time. The match is a match, nothing too special about it. It breaks out in a big brew-ha-ha near the end, which is easily the best part of the match, as people go flying through tables and the such all over the place. Then of course, Austin, for NO REASON AT ALL, decides to hit Angle with the Stunner, and give Booker the pin. I swear, the WWE’s obsession with “you’re gonna like what we tell you to like” is insufferable at times. Austin’s return to being a babyface the Monday before this PPV was one of the biggest reactions I’ve ever heard. They didn’t want a heel Austin, but damned if the WWE just didn’t give a shit.
Team Alliance wins after Austin hits Angle with the Stunner and Booker covers for the win at 29:03 | ***

Team WWF vs Team Alliance
RVD & Jericho start us off. We get through a few tags before Big Show is first eliminated after taking multiple finishers, giving Shane the pin. He then gets the same treatment, via a Rock Bottom, Tombstone, and Lionsault. RVD and Kane battle it out for a minute, before Kane catches a top-rope jump kick after a 5-Star and is out. ‘Taker starts beating on all members of the Alliance before hitting Angle with the Last Ride, only for Austin to hit him with a Stunner and give Angle the pin. RVD and the Rock have a go before Jericho comes in and pins RVD using the Skull-Crushing Finale. I can’t recall what he was calling it back then. Angle and Rock go for it for a minute before Rock actually taps him with the Sharpshooter, something I didn’t see coming, so kudos for that. He tags in Jericho who ends up getting pinned by Austin after a roll-up counter. Jericho then hits Rock with the Skull Crushing Finale, and in brilliant Jericho fashion walks away saying “I’m the hero! I’M the hero!”. Fucking love it. Stone Cold puts Rock in the Sharpshooter, which I mention simply because I swear, Bret was the ONLY one who ever put it on and made it look believable. We get a pretty good closing stretch with Rock & Austin, as they can’t help but tear the house down. They trade finishers until Angle comes in and clocks Austin with the belt, allowing Rock to hit the Rock Bottom and the pin. This match was pretty blah until the final 15 or so minutes, then things really started to pick up. Of course, doesn’t hurt when your closing stretch has 4 of the greatest of all time in the same ring. Man, it’s crazy to think that the decades of WWE vs WCW resulted in this. Wow.
The Rock pins Austin with the Rock Bottom at 44:57 | ***1/4

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